Ed Salley
Ed Salley asked:

Is there a particular line up of these books that one should start with? You know what I mean, is there a first one that should be read? Thanks

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Michael Grogan In answer to Salley, I believe Philip Marlowe's story chronology goes... 1. The Big Sleep (1939) 2. Farewell, My Lovely (1940) 3. The High Window (1942) 4. The Lady in the Lake (1943) 5. The Little Sister (1949) 6. The Simple Art of Murder (1950) (short story collection) 7. The Long Goodbye (1953) 8. Playback (1958) 9. Poodle Springs (1988)* *Started 1958 by Chandler & completed by Robert B. Parker.
Bill Kelly A first to last reading of the works is not really important as the character does not carry holdover relationships or situations from book to book until The Long Goodbye.
The early novels often cannibalized Chandler's short stories (with the lifted scenes usually being much more well written), but the plot point sequences in the books can be a little herky-jerky and at times confusing. The Little Sister is the first wholly original work and for better or worse, Chandler lets the prose and the emotions fly. If you are interested in the development of Chandler as a writer, I would read Farewell, My Lovely (my favorite of the novels using utilizing reworked previously published material), The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye in that order. With these three books you would see Chandler find his (and Marlowe's) voice, gain confidence and with The Long Goodbye, create a work that rivals any mainstream American novel of the time as "literature".
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) They're standalones. That's what people wrote in those days, novels, not series.
Salley J Robins I don't know if there is a chronological order - but The Big Sleep was Chandler's first novel and the second was Farewell My Lovely. - SJ
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